Watch CBS News

New Program Helping Women Who Were Once Incarcerated Transition Into Workforce Through Fashion

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new program is helping women who were once incarcerated transition into the workforce through fashion. Inside studio walls in Gray's Ferry, Rayonna Beckett and Chloe Butler learn to sew and design.

The two women are the first cohorts in what's called Maker Fellow, a six-week fashion design fellowship that caters to women once incarcerated for non-violent offenses. The program hopes to help them transition to the workforce.

"I've been through homelessness. I've been through the Philadelphia shelter system while pregnant," Beckett said.

Designer and Drexel University fashion professor Beth Quinn teaches the class.

"Seeing them grow so quickly and seeing them feel so accomplished when they're able to sew things is so fulfilling for me," Quinn said.

The studio spaces belongs to a clothing company called Grant Blvd.

Owner Kimberly McGlonn, who spearheaded the program, wants the fellows to learn about protecting the environment by only using recycled fabric to reduce landfill waste.

The program ends next week with a private fashion show at the University of Pennsylvania, which will display two garments and a tote created by the fellows.

Through these baby steps, both Beckett and Butler hope to reach the finish line by landing jobs at Grant Blvd.

There, they will earn at least $12 an hour.

"This is like fresh air, a beautiful park in the middle of the hood, you know what I mean? It's an opportunity," Beckett said.

Three people work for Grant Blvd right now. The goal is to hire Beckett, Butler and an additional 10 fellows within the year.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.